A Mouse to Clean Your House

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

A Mouse to Clean Your House

March 28, 2019

Maybe you’ve seen the movie Ratatouille, where a talented rat shows a human how to cook fancy meals. It turns out there’s at least one helpful rodent in real life! A man named Stephen Mckears left his bolts, screws, and other metal hardware scattered on his workbench. Every morning, these objects would mysteriously be tucked neatly into a plastic bin. Stephen wondered if he had a friendly ghost, so he set up a camera overnight. It sounds like a tall tail, but the video proved it – a mouse was behind the housecleaning! His secret furry friend, now nicknamed “Metal Mickey”, spent 2 1/2 hours grabbing everything he could with his mouth and dropping it into the plastic bin. Normally you don’t want wild mice, but we could all use a housemate like this one!

Wee ones: Metal Mickey is 3 inches long. If he moves a screw that’s 1 inch longer, how long is the screw?

Little kids: The nuts that fit onto bolts are often hexagons, which have 6 sides. Find 6 stick-shaped things like pencils, crayons, toothpicks or forks, and lay them on the floor end to end to make a hexagon shape.  Bonus: If Metal Mickey grabs a screw, a bolt, then a nut, and keeps repeating that pattern, what’s the 7th object he grabs?

Big kids: If Metal Mickey spends 2 1/2 hours cleaning every night, and starts at 2:25 am, when does he finish? (Hint if needed: If it took just 2 hours, when would he finish?)  Bonus: How many hours does he clean in 4 nights?


Wee ones: The screw is 4 inches long, because 3 + 1 = 4.

Little kids: Try it…even if the sides aren’t all the same length and it’s kind of wacky and crooked, it’s still a hexagon if there are 6 sides! Bonus: A screw, because the pattern completes a round at the 6th object and begins again with the 7th.

Big kids: At 4:55 am, 30 minutes later than 4:25 pm.  Bonus: 10 hours – you can add up the 2 whole hours first to reach 8, then add the 4 1/2-hours to add another 2 hours. Or you can first figure out that 2 1/2 + 2 1/2 = 5, and since 4 days is twice as many as 2 days, Mickey must spend 5 x 2 hours.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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